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Ho to prevent heather honey from fermenting.

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wbchive 

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Living near the heather moor is a mixed blessing. In late Summer and Autumn (weather permitting) the supers fill up with mainly heather honey which means that next Spring I have no drawn supers to put on. The other problem is that it tends to ferment in the jar, which is unpleasant. Does anybody know how to prevent fermentation please?

Steve
 
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I have reduced the moisture content of honey by exposing it in open buckets in a small room with a dehumdifier running. It takes several days but it will work eventually.

For a small amount already in jars I would suggest putting them in the freezer until needed. Put the jars in poly bags so they don't get covered in frost and get wet when thawing out. They shouldn't ferment in a freezer. The same technique works for liquid honey to stop it setting.
 

Poly Hive 

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The time to reduce moisture is when the honey is STILL in the comb.

Keeping it warm and running a dehumidifier works wonders, but beware it can be too good, I once took it down to 18%.... oops...


PH
 

Rosti 

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May or may not be an option for you but you could heat to kill and then bottle. 65'C for 30mins does the job or for not much more heat 75/5. 65 is probably better and well stired because it stops local hot spots and associated darkening / caramelisation etc. It will also reduce water content marginally. Dont cool it in the jar and ventilate when cooling because the condensation will likely bring Y&M from your kitchen back into the honey and locally increase water content letting the varmits grow! The following explains the time/temp relationship. Blue = general vegetative flora 'spoilage bugs', red is what yeasts typically follow - need more heat/time to kill. Anything below 65'C for a yeast kill and you are probably wasting your time and losing honey quality for no benefit. The pro's pasteurise hotter for quicker but thats not available in a home kitchen!
 
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psafloyd 

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I have reduced the moisture content of honey by exposing it in open buckets in a small room with a dehumdifier running. It takes several days but it will work eventually.

For a small amount already in jars I would suggest putting them in the freezer until needed. Put the jars in poly bags so they don't get covered in frost and get wet when thawing out. They shouldn't ferment in a freezer. The same technique works for liquid honey to stop it setting.
Putting jars ina freezer? Surely that isn't a good idea. Do you mean plastic tubs?
 
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No, glass jars are fine as the honey doesn't freeze. It stays liquid but crystalisation and fermentation slows right down.
 

Hivemaker. 

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Leaving the honey in the combs/supers in a small warm room with a dehumidifier is the best way to ensure a low moisture content.

It is vitally important that heather honey is never overheated, otherwise it will become muddy in appearance and the flavour will be severely damaged, unlike ordinary honeys which can take much more heat without damage.
Manley goes into some of the details of why heather honey should not be heated in one of his books.
 

Poly Hive 

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Craibstone had a super warmer with a fan blowing warm air up through the supers of honey. Provided the combs are all the same way the air flows through surprisingly well.

PH
 

Hivemaker. 

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LOL.....i use one of our timber drying kilns if availible,they have 2ft fans and large dehumidifiers.
 

Gardenbees 

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The time to reduce moisture is when the honey is STILL in the comb.
:iagree:
If you have a few combs with too-runny honey, I've found in the past that a fan oven works wonders. DON'T heat the oven!! Just turn on the fan, provided the room is fairly warm this is all that's needed. Take all the shelves out, rank the combs as if they're in a toast-rack, crank the door open a little and set the fan going. You have to open the door or else the moisture just stays put, or so it seemed. It's a bit wasteful on electricity but probably no worse than using a dehumidifier for a couple of days. It takes at least half a day. (I'm assuming the oven is clean and doesn't smell of roast beef, garlic etc.!!)

Test the honey if possible, and once it's about how it would have been if the bees had fanned it sufficiently themselves, i.e. a good consistency, you can try to extract it in the usual way. Don't overdo the drying: heather honey is tough to extract at the best of times, and if it's really gooey then there's no point trying to spin it. Better yet: if it's a good consistency and isn't affected by thymol or other autumn treatments, use it as cut comb. (;)Or dunk a chunk of comb in whisky, and make home-made Stag's Breath. For those medicinal uses....)
 

wbchive 

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Thank you for all the helpful replies. I have a decent dehumidifier, so I suppose I ought to invest in a refractometer. Can anyone suggest a good deal please?

Steve
 

Rosti 

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Ebay, loads on there, make sure you buy one with a black blob behind the prism (rubber cover over adjuster) - so you can adjust/calibrate it using a standard (known) sugar solution you can make up yourself. That said mine was accurate when bought and has not needed adjustment. Expect to pay £12-15. Mine is 2 years old and from that source and going strong. R
 

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